Motorola Moto X (2014, Verizon Wireless)
By Eugene Kim
Few phones captured the hearts and minds of enthusiasts and laymen alike quite like the original Motorola Moto X. It was a sleeper hit smartphone that succeeded in spite of its relatively modest specs. This year's Moto X rectifies the spec complaints, while retaining the thoughtful tweaks that set the original apart. Stunning, customizable looks and a low $99 (with contract; 16GB) price solidify its place near the top of the heap. The biggest competition on Verizon comes from Motorola itself-the Droid Turbo is based on the Moto X, but is better in several key ways. If $100 is your absolute max, the Moto X is the clear choice, but if you're looking in the $100-200 range, I'd take the Droid Turbo every time.
We've already reviewed the Moto X on AT&T, which is physically identical to the Verizon model. Head over to the original review for a full rundown on design and features. For this review, we'll focus on network performance and software differences.
Call Quality and Battery Life The Moto X connects to Verizon's 3G CDMA/1xEVDO Rev. A (800/1900MHz) and 4G LTE (700/1700MHz) networks, with global support for EDGE/GSM (850/900/1800/1900MHz) and HSPA/UMTS (850/900/1900/2100MHz) networks. That's not quite as robust as the Droid Turbo's frequency range, and there's no mention of carrier aggregation compatibility, which promises faster speeds once Verizon builds out that capability. I found mobile data speeds to be comparable between the two handsets, though, hovering around 8-10Mbps down and 4-6Mbps up with decent LTE coverage.
Call quality is also largely indistinguishable between the two. Earpiece volume is solid and voices on the other end of the line sound natural and easy to understand. Transmissions through the mic are clear and noise cancellation worked well in my tests.
Editors' Note: The slideshow below is of the AT&T Moto X, which is physically identical to the Verizon model.
In a battery rundown test, where we streamed a YouTube video over LTE with screen brightness set to max, the Moto X on Verizon lasted for 5 hours, 24 minutes. That's a surprisingly good result considering the relatively small 2,300mAh battery pack. The iPhone 6 lasted for 4 hours, 33 minutes on the same test, while the Droid Turbo turned in an impressive 7 hours, 13 minutes thanks to its much beefier 3,900mAh battery. I found the Moto X to be perfectly fine for a normal day's worth of usage, but if you're a power user or looking for closer to two days on a single charge, the Droid Turbo is the way to go. Both phones also support Qualcomm's Quick Charge 2.0, but only the Turbo comes with an appropriate charger, while you'll have to pay $34.99 for Motorola's Turbo Charger if you grab a Moto X. In my tests, the Turbo Charger brought the Droid Turbo from zero to 30 percent battery in about 30 minutes.
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Software and Conclusions The near-stock Android 4.4 software and Moto Voice, Display, Assist, and Actions features all remain the same between every Moto X model and the Droid Turbo. Of course, being a Verizon phone, bloatware like VZ Navigator, Message+, and Verizon Cloud are pre-installed and cannot be removed completely. Of the 16GB of internal storage, 9.7GB is available out of the box. With many apps eclipsing the 1GB requirement, expect some limits on local media storage.
Motorola has two excellent, flagship-worthy phones on Verizon. The Moto X is the more elegant of the two, while the Droid Turbo's in-your-face aggressiveness might be offensive to some. But make no mistake, the Droid Turbo is superior in every appreciable way, and when you factor in the $149.99 price for the 32GB Moto X, the savings aren't quite as substantial compared with the $199.99 32GB Droid Turbo. If you're a design or customization nut, the Moto X offers far more options, and it's by no means an underpowered phone. But if you can tolerate the Turbo's design, it's the clear front-runner on Verizon.